The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats

William Geroux. Viking, $28.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-42815-2
Journalist Geroux combines the skills of a newsman and those of a scholar to tell the story of the vital and heroic role played by the U.S. Merchant Marines during WWII. These civilian sailors delivered hundreds of millions of tons of cargo across the globe during the war, on vulnerable, often-unescorted ships, and their actions are largely overlooked in histories of the war. Communities that made their living from the sea, including Mathews County, Va., and families such as the Hodges—who sent seven sons to war on defenseless merchantmen facing the ace U-boats of Nazi Germany—bore the consequences and received neither recognition nor reward. In the war’s early days, so many merchantmen were sunk off the Atlantic coast that a publisher “hurried into print a 144-page book entitled How to Abandon Ship.” Death was only a torpedo hit away and surviving could still mean dying slowly on a raft. Geroux leaves no doubt that the ocean was as unforgiving as the U-boats—as was a Congress that failed to extend veterans’ benefits to merchant mariners until 1988. Yet the men of Mathews still put to sea; “the torpedoes just got in the way.” Maps. Agent: Farley Chase, Chase Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 04/19/2016
Compact Disc - 978-0-399-56710-0
Hardcover - 625 pages - 978-1-4104-8815-2
Compact Disc - 978-0-399-56712-4
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-14-310926-6
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